This week on Dancing with the Stars was 80s night, a blast from the past and the perfect trip down memory lane. I graduated from Punahou High School in 1986, and all the songs our contestants danced to brought back some of my favorite memories of growing up in Hawaii and pursuing dance as a career.
The 80s were such an important decade for me, containing some of my favorite memories both of my home in Hawaii and my brand new career in entertainment. It was the decade that I toured Japan as a performing artist and started investing in what has become a lifelong love of dance. My team and I wanted to do justice to his fabulous era in fashion, and we went to town bringing the 80s to life in my look this week. To read more about it you can check out my getting ready diary at People.com.
First, I’d like to give a big congratulations to Johnny Weir and his partner Britt for their artistic and passionate contemporary dance. Britt’s choice to take Johnny back on the ice was incredible strategy as his mentor and partner, and I really think it helped him tap into something major in this season of Dancing with the Stars. This season has been potentially the most competitive one I’ve ever seen; we’re seeing a lot of great dancing, and there are so many couples that could be contenders. This has been a strong moment for breakthroughs; I can see so many of our performers making new connections and reaching new levels in different ways. Last week I felt Nelly had a real breakthrough performance with his paso doble only to have another breakthrough this week. He finally seemed so relaxed and comfortable, like he had found his range of movement in this samba. I think we tend to forget that dancing is not only sport, but it’s art and communication and entertainment as well. This week Nelly really tapped into that entertainment side, and we all enjoyed watching him.
As judges, we love to see our contestants have breakthroughs, which is why it can be so heartbreaking to have to say goodbye to someone when their breakthrough might be right around the corner. It was so hard to have to send Jesse Metcalfe and his partner Sharna Burgess home because after 29 seasons, I can tell when things are starting to click into place for contestants. My judge’s comments are always geared towards helping people reach that next level; I always want to invest in the growth and the evolution of the celebrities who have decided to take the chance and appear on Dancing with the Stars. It can be so challenging to lean into an experience like this one, and I always want to give advice that encourages them on their journey.
It was so difficult to have to make the choice between Jesse Metcalfe and Vernon Davis, but it was clear to me that Vernon was closer to his breakthrough than Jesse at this point. That being said, I truly hope Jesse has found a love for dance in this process and I hope he can incorporate some of what he learned into his future endeavors. He seemed to really be learning to love dance and I hope this isn’t the last we see of that side of him.
I know that Dancing with the Stars is a show crafted to entertain and delight, but I also think it’s such an incredible vehicle for everyone who makes it into our ballroom. Even if people go home earlier than we’d hoped or we don’t get to see them do things we thought they could, DWTS can be such an amazing platform for celebrities to let the audience see a different side to themselves. For instance, just last week Anne Heche told a story she’d never told before about her relationship with Ellen and got to be real and vulnerable with all of us. I’m always proud to be on a show that gives people a place to grow and evolve and courageously face their fears. Dancing with the Stars is total entertainment, but it also creates change for people. It allows evolution. And it gives people hope, I think, when they watch other people face their own fears or tell their own stories. We get to know our contestants better and that helps us get to know ourselves better.
I’m already looking forward to next week and all the fresh growth it will bring. I’m truly so proud of each of our performers and all they’re accomplishing, even though I didn’t get a chance to mention every one of them by name here. Next week I’ll feature a few more of our couples and share my deeper impressions of them so you can get an inside look at my perspective of the competition.
Thank you for watching and for reading, and I hope you’re enjoying the process as much as we are! Halloween night is coming soon, and we’re all hard at work deciding what we’re going to be. We try to top ourselves every year, and I know that with Tyra’s fashionable influence our costumes are going to be on a whole new level!
For previous entries of my DWTS Diary, click here!